9 Etiquette Hacks to Help You Get Through the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Whether or not you’re a lover of tinsel and eggnog, navigating the holiday season well can be the perfect way to put a bow on the end of a successful year. Social opportunities abound during this time. With great opportunities come great risks, so be sure that you’re prepped for what lies ahead. Fine tune your schedule, decide what you’re attending, and practice your party lines. Here are nine etiquette tips to keep you laughing all the way!

1. If you don’t know the dress code for your holiday party, ask.

Especially if your holiday party is being hosted at a venue outside your office, if you’re not sure about what the vibe in the room will be, ask the organizers! You can glean clues from the style of the invitation and by doing a little research on the party venue, but sometimes it can still be hard to tell. Another sly tactic is to ask what a co-worker is planning to wear.  However if it’s not absolutely clear, don’t be the one that misreads things and comes in jeans when it’s formal, or black tie when it’s casual. A little query never hurt anybody.

2. Go to the party (even if it’s just for a little bit)

There will be some of you who prefer to watch Netflix within the comfy walls of your condo to a night of eggnog spent with the guy from accounting whose name you can never remember. (Jeff? John?) ’Tis the season to suck it up. Being a team player goes beyond the boardroom sometimes, and this is definitely such an occasion. Even if it’s just for an hour, being present speaks to your commitment to the company. So smile, have an hors-d’oeuvre, and pose for a few photos. It will go a long way.

3. Gifts are a token gesture, not a grand statement

If you find yourself entertaining clients over the holidays or sending out gifts, make sure that what you decide to give isn’t too over the top. How much contact do you have with this client throughout the year? How much is your relationship worth financially? These questions are good guidelines when deciding how you’ll celebrate the season with them. It also sets rules of engagement for what both parties can reliably expect, which will help avoid an awkward situation where your client sends you chrysanthemums and you send them expensive watches. Thoughtful over gaudy, always.

4. Don’t be the drunk person at the party

That’s all we’ll say about that.

5. If the party is at someone’s home, bring a host/hostess gift

Never show up to an event at someone’s home empty-handed. It isn’t essential that what you bring along is ready for consumption right away: the idea is that it’s a gift that just for the hosts to enjoy later. So, if you’re bringing a baked good or a bottle of wine, it doesn’t have to be enough for everyone there. It’s a gesture that’s just between you and the person who invited you as a thanks in advance. A thank you card sent afterwards is never a bad idea either if you genuinely enjoyed yourself!

6. Talk to everyone

It’s tempting to stick with your favourite coworkers or your significant other at an office party, but take it as an opportunity to mingle with people that you don’t usually get to talk to daily at the office. It’s a chance to build relationships with people more senior than you, and also contribute to company culture by making co-workers feel recognized. Don’t be a wallflower!

7. Say no to the ugly Santa sweaters

The dress code is casual, the event is small and at your office, the sky is falling. None of the above are good reasons to wear a goofy holiday sweater. It’s never OK. Never. The only festive gear that we pre-approve is Santa pajamas, because they’re worn in the dark.

8. Take your photos at the beginning

Holiday party photos are always a fun thing to look back on, so don’t be shy about taking them and sharing them around! Just be kind when selecting the moments you plan to photograph. Try to keep the photo opps to the beginning of the evening, when everyone looks fresh, and no one has overindulged in eggnog yet. Your coworkers will thank you.

9. Keep conversation light

There are certain hot-button political issues on everyone’s lips right now, and it can be tempting to raise them or join in when someone else has. If you want to ensure the evening is successful, however, try not to go there if you can help it. When wine is flowing and people are getting loose, you included, slips of the tongue can lead to awkward situations. Stick to chatting about your local sports team instead of politics.

Everyone has their own strategies for having a fun and socially successful holiday season! What are your etiquette hacks?


Nicole Edwards

Nicole Edwards is a fashion and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. She has worked as Associate Publisher of Private Islands magazine and Lifestyle Editor of Style Empire, and has contributed to NOW Magazine.